BARNEVELD — Even though Alli Mayfield has been fishing trout since she was 3 years old, it hasn’t always been easy to find a good trout stream.
Mayfield lives in Illinois, which is not known for good trout fishing.
She began her fishing career in Missouri and fished primarily western states when she went after trout — that is, until she had a job interview near Madison in mid-January.
“This is my first time fishing Wisconsin,” Mayfield said. She came to Wisconsin for the interview and also has relatives near Madison. She brought her fishing gear, too.
“I have a six-hour drive to get here,” she said. “I’ve heard a lot about the Driftless Area having good trout streams.”
Mayfield’s first stop was Dane County’s Black Earth Creek. She pulled her phone out to show me photos of the browns she caught there, big ones, too, she said.
Then she traveled west to Iowa County and tried Trout Creek just across the county line.
What is it about trout fishing that charms this Illinois woman?
“It’s the challenge,” Mayfield explained, showing me her beadhead fly she used to catch the big browns in Black Earth water.
“Trout fishing is relaxing, too, and most trout streams are in beautiful country,” she added. “This is the very first time fishing trout in your state.”
Things began falling into place, in part due to trout fishing. The job interview could splash her right in the midst of great fishing, should it all work out. The interview was on free fishing weekend, too, which is for ice fishing, but open-water fishing, too.
The beauty of the area Mayfield referred to was out in full force on this bluebird day. Four eagles, two of which were adults, seemed to be defending their old nest that had already been refurbished for February laying.
A pair of pileated woodpeckers flew across the stream toward the forest on the west. A kingfisher stayed put, like the eagles, with eyes searching the stream below. Mayfield was not the only angler out on this fine day, but unlike the female fisher these birds are not obligated to follow the catch-and-release early season.
“It doesn’t matter, I don’t take trout away from the stream regardless of the regulations,” she said.
Assuming Mayfield moves to Wisconsin, she wouldn’t have to purchase a new fishing license to finish the season. She can fish as a resident with the older nonresident license until it expires, so she’s good to go, either if she remains in Illinois, or becomes a Wisconsin resident.
Licenses expire March 31, 2018, but the early trout season continues until the regular season begins May 5. Then it closes Oct. 15. As soon as the new 2018 licenses are offered for sale, they become a valid license. In other words, if someone purchases a license March 21, it is good for the rest of March and until March 31, 2019.
There are far more fishing license options for residents and nonresidents than there are species of trout in area streams, so select the one that best fits your needs.
Until then, even though some stream banks are covered with tall, brittle vegetation, don’t let that deter you from venturing out. Tramp down the old burdocks and cow parsnips and toss a fly or spinner.
Jerry Davis can be reached at email@example.com.